A Madrid institution that once played host to the likes of The Beatles, Cary Grant, and Rita Hayworth, this hotel is a mere hop from the posh shops of Calle Serrano. An impressive lobby with marble floors, antique furniture, and a stained-glass dome ceiling define the style. Spacious rooms are decorated in reds and golds, flowers abound, and a happening cocktail bar extends onto a large terrace overlooking Plaza de Colón on the Castellana.
Opulent and unapologetically old school, rooms evoke a bygone era with satin wallpaper, stately bergères, and polished wood desks. Certain suites and Grand Premium rooms boast outdoor whirlpools, and all provide a pillow menu and complimentary shoe-shine upon request.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The "RedLevel" VIP area with panoramic views, accessible only to guests in upgraded rooms, is pleasant but smacks of elitism.
Marble-clad bathrooms decked out with gilded fixtures are stocked with Clarins toiletries, monogrammed bathrobes, and cushy slippers.
The palatial lobby is a time warp to the heyday of Continental hospitality with its stained-glass dome, Ionic columns, and tufted divans. Staff, however, are anything but stuffy, eager to attend to your every need.
The new, cornily decorated Thai Room Wellness offers individualized Ayurvedic and Asian-inflected massage therapies.
Unremarkable but fine for basic training, the fitness center is equipped with several cardio and weight machines.
The fine-dining restaurant Caray, which serves Spanish fine-dining cuisine by Miguel Morán, is inviting and sumptuously decorated, though some guests report shaky service and mediocre food.
Arguably one of Madrid's best cocktail bars, Dry Martini serves expertly crafted—if pricey—concoctions by mixologist Javier de las Muellas that hinge on top-shelf liquors and fresh fruit juices.
Order the bar's namesake cocktail for a textbook definition of a well-made martini.
Though you're close to Retiro Park and a few other Madrid landmarks, unless you're a motivated walker, you'll want to take taxis or hop on the metro (Line 4) at Colón to visit most historic sites.
The Salamanca district, just north of the hotel, boasts two of the best spots in the city for tortilla de patata, Spanish potato omelette: Casa Dani (5-minute walk), a noisy bar tucked in a back corner of Mercado de la Paz, and Estay (7-minute walk), a stylish restaurant that doubles as a café before noon. After sundown, embark on a tapas crawl through the neighborhood, hitting La Máquina (cocktails and finger food), Cinco Jotas (premium jamón ibérico), and Ultramarinos Quintín (rawbar and flatbreads)—all about a 6-minute walk from the hotel.
The quiet streets surrounding the hotel belie a number of exciting nightlife venues. There’s Ten con Ten (3-minute walk), the swanky “gin bar” that incited Madrid's gin-tónic frenzy a decade ago that hasn’t abated since. After a cocktail there, make your way to Arts Club (13-minute walk), a buzzy bar and discoteca that heats up on the weekends with international DJ sets.
WHY WE LIKE IT
We love a hotel that sticks to its guns, and at Gran Meliá Fénix, what you see is what you get: a classic, luxurious hotel that oozes nostalgia and class. We could spend hours unwinding over coffee in the lobby or over a well-made martini in the cocktail bar. That said, we miss certain modern perks that have become ubiquitous in most five-star hotels such as in-room speakers, smart TVs, and international power outlets.